The Obsessed – “Live At Big Dipper” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Well, I guess ya couldn’t have celebrated 40 years of The Obsessed better than by Wino’s choice of this rare bootleg recording of the band’s original line-up of himself on guitars / vocals, drummer Dave ‘The Slave’ Flood and bassist Mark ‘Professor Dark’ Laue on 9 rough n ready live tracks recorded in 1983 at Maryland’s Big Dipper Club. Added to this rare collection are 4 demo tracks recorded in 1985 by Wino, Laue and Ed Gulli on drums and what you have is an absolute must for both long-time fans and collectors, not to mention the perfect complement to Wino’s recent solo record “Forever Gone”. Enshrined in US doom metal history, Wino and The Obsessed hold nothing short of cult status, so these cleaned up but still raw recordings would be particularly enticing to anyone wanting to hear the initial run of the band, whose final show was in 1985 at The University of Maryland. Opening mellowly enough in ‘Field Of Hours’, it doesn’t take long before the contrast of droning doom ushers in a distorted bombast of headbanging as the trio open up although Wino’s vocals remain soulfully trippy throughout! No such mercy on ‘Decimation’, which lives up to its name in being a chugging smasher as all the instruments power into a stonking doom groove, although Wino’s vocals do make it through the cement mixer, as does his wild, screaming solo along with Flood’s fast snare work. Kicking in on ‘Mental Kingdom’, Wino’s guitar rolls in the riffs tastily mixing doom with stoner and fast rock ‘n’ roll as he shows his measure as a guitarist, much to the cheering approval of the Beltsville crowd. Of the demo tracks, ‘A World Apart’ with its punk meets stoner mix, complete with Ozzy-esque wailings proves irresistible as does ‘Neatz Brigade’, which is a jamming doom hellraiser driven frantically at times, while elsewhere is trippy and funking on this near 6 1/2 minute closer, although the raw resonating power and Wino’s lines of ‘…the difference between you and me…is like making love in a mausoleum…’ proves his legendary destination foretold long before his star ever ascended.